How to Set Your Prices As A Film Photographer

Sandra Coan film Photography education How to set your prices as a film photographer

I’m often asked how I can run a profitable business while shooting film.  

Isn’t film expensive?  Answer: Yes it is.

Do the high cost eat into your profits?  Answer: No they don’t.

The truth is, you can have a very successful business model that includes shooting film.  You just have to be smart about it!

Film and processing are just Costs of Doing Business, or COBs.  To be a profitable film photographer you need to figure them into your expenses and set your fees accordingly.

Know your numbers

Look at your calendar.  If you are a portrait photographer, how many clients do you average per month?  If you are a wedding photographer, how many weddings do you shoot? Now figure out how many rolls you use per session/wedding.  Write that number down.  That should give you an idea of what your film costs are per month and per year.

Set Your Pricing for Profitability 

The next step is to figure out what you need to be making per session or event to pay yourself and sustain your business.

There are many formulas to do this.  I worked out a very in depth one for myself several years ago that helped me figure out what my hourly rate is and what it cost me per roll of film (based on all my expenses)

But for starters, you really just need to make sure your are charging enough to stay profitable. Here is a simple formula for figuring that out!

  1. Figure out your costs of doing business (a.k.a. C.O.B.s)  ALL you cost.  Film and processing (use the number you came up with above to see how much film you use per year), rent, insurance, products, marketing, phone, internet, camera repairs…. Everything you spend money on in you business.  Write it down and add it up!

  2. Figure out (realistically) what you will be paying yourself per year (yes, you should be paying yourself!!!) Do you pay yourself $1000.00 a month or $10,000.00 a month?  And remember what your business brings in ISN’T your salary.  That is your gross income, or what your business makes.  So figure out what you need/want to pay yourself from that.  

  3. Add your COBs to what you are paying yourself.  That number is the minimum your business needs to be bringing in per year.

  4. Figure out how many clients, on average, you work with each month and multiply that by twelve.  That is the number of client you want per year.

  5. Divide the minimum amount that your business needs to be bringing in with the number of client you plan on working with each year.  Write it down.  That is the minimum that you need to be charging per session.

Don't Panic!

Now, if that number seems HUGE to you for where you are in your business, that is okay! At least now you know where your pricing needs to be and you can start building your business around making sure you are bringing that money in.  More on that later.

Remember, film is just another cost of doing business.  So figure out your costs and charge accordingly!

download my Pricing for Profitability Worksheet  

Have a question?  Let me know!  You can ask in the comment space below this post.